When a fisherman came across an infant’s remains in 2007, he had no idea his grisly discovery would unravel a murderous spree that spanned across nine years.
The murderer was a father named Paul Perez and his victims were each one of his five children.
After the fisherman discovered the three-month-old boy’s remains in a sealed container, weighed down by heavy objects, he alerted authorities.
But efforts to identify the child were unsuccessful and an investigation into the killing went cold for nearly two decades, writes The New York Times.
That was until October last year, when new DNA technology identified the baby as Nikko Lee Perez.
Authorities learned Nikki had four siblings and that they, too, were younger than six months old when they died, reports The Metro.
This week, Perez (57) was arrested for the torture and murder of Nikko in 1996.
Perez, from California in the US, is already serving time behind bars on unrelated offenses.
He also stands accused of murdering his four other infant children in a similar manner between 1992 and 2001.
According to the New York Post, police have identified the children as Kato Allen (born in 1992), Mika Alena (born in 1995), a second Nikko Lee (born in 1997) and Kato Krow (born in 2001).
Although police already knew Kato is dead, the remains of the other three children are yet to be found.
“The allegations announced today are heartbreaking,” Xavier Becerra, California Attorney General said in a statement.
“There’s absolutely no place in our society for horrendous crimes against children.”
A Sheriff at Yolo County added this case has been the toughest one of his career.
“In my 40 years of law enforcement, I cannot think of a case more disturbing than this one,” Tom Lopez says.
“There can be no victim more vulnerable and innocent than an infant and unfortunately this case involves five.”
Perez will appear in court early next month and if convicted, he could face the death penalty.